Hyberbole and Jihad in Scottsdale

Have you heard about the inflationary new job titles for Scottsdale, Arizona public school employees? For example, the district’s receptionist is now known as “Director of First Impressions” and bus drivers have become “Transporters of Learners.”

Even though it could double the printing cost of business cards for the newly minted “Executive Director for Elementary Schools and Excelling Teaching and Learning,” (formerly Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools), this seems harmless enough – if silly and straight out of a Dilbert cartoon.

Scottsdale Superintendent John Baracy, who created the new titles for about a half-dozen employees, doesn’t think [it’s silly].

“This is to make a statement about what we value in the district. We value learning,” said Baracy, who pledges to back up the new titles with better customer service.

… As for [Barbara] Levine, Scottsdale’s Director of First Impressions, she loves her new title.

“I think it’s classy,” she recently said while answering the telephone and directing a visitor to the right office. “It sounds so important. Everyone wants to be important.”

That doesn’t sound like it’s about customer service, exactly – more like self-indulgent puffery.

Maybe the students are the ones who need new titles. I’d suggest “Offspring of a Taxpayer” or, “One Whose Presence Here Enables Your Continued Employment” or, for the more poetic, “Rider of the Purple Wage Learner Transporting Device.”

Still, if it actually increased customer service (even talking about students as customers is an improvement) it might be worthwhile.

Superintendent Baracy, however, has larger issues he probably should be looking at.

There is at least one important learning service sadly lacking in Scottsdale; accuracy in the history curriculum. When combined with a violation of the “separation-of-church-and-state” mantra, you might expect the school district would be nervous about being sued.

Fortunately for Scottsdale, the ACLU has not found that classroom Islamic instruction, or directed prayer to Allah, merits their attention.

It seems that Scottsdale is using a new textbook that misrepresents certain historical aspects of Islam. The textbook was reviewed, along with several others, by the non-partisan American Textbook Council.

It found that these widely adopted world history textbooks generally:

… make no distinction between sharia and Western law, and they pretend that women are making great strides in the Islamic world, when all evidence indicates otherwise. Social studies textbooks ignore the global ambitions of militant Islam. They fail to explain that Muslim terrorists seek to destroy the United States and Israel. They omit geopolitical goals that include theocracy and world domination by religion.

The Council found an especially egregious example, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, of which it says:

The student edition is an ill-written product printed on the cheap. Accompanying instructional materials are simply amateurish. By comparison, the Council on Islamic Education-inspired and often criticized Houghton Mifflin textbook for seventh graders, Across the Centuries, is an elegant tome with superior content, lessons, and instructional activities, on Islam and other subjects in medieval and world history.

History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond‘s lessons titled “Jihad” and “Shari’ah: Islamic Law” are extracted [here]. … At the very least, the passages are incomplete. More precisely, they are dishonest. Neither passage explains the essentially religious nature of the subject. It ignores any challenge to international security and western-style law. The treatment is lyrical and loaded, echoing and copying the language of domestic Islamist tracts.”

History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond is the textbook being offered to Scottsdale 7th graders as “better customer service.”

One wonders how students were treated before they were considered to be the customers and before “learning was valued.”

The textbook is, of course, only part of the curriculum. More of it is revealed in a concerned Scottsdale parent’s letter to Daniel Pipes website:

The school has spent approximately 5 weeks of the third quarter grading period teaching Islam to 12 and 13 year olds. The children had to write a full biography on the life of Muhammad, using the information from the textbook – an extremely indoctrinating exercise. This biography will be a large portion of their grade for the 8 week period. Michael H. Hart’s top 100 list of the most influential people in the history of the world was presented to teach that Muhammad was #1, Sir Isaac Newton was #2 and Jesus was #3. The school hosted two professional Muslim speakers, from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, to speak to all 7th grade social studies classes. This took one whole day. The Muslim speakers brought prayer rugs and taught the children to pray the Muslim way. I also believe that there were recitations from the Koran and possibly an Islamic “fashion show”.

The writer notes the textbook is not allowed to be taken home.

My questions are many, but a few of them are:

  • Why isn’t the ACLU raving about a breach of “church-and-state”?
  • Since the preponderant influence on such text books is the opinion of ‘scholars’* in our Universities, does anybody see now why our University faculties’ makeup is a matter of importance?
  • Why is California considering this textbook for adoption (that’s rhetorical)?
  • Does Superintendent Baracy know what’s being taught on his watch, or is he too busy inventing new titles for bus drivers?
  • Is it legal in Arizona to say a blessing prior to a football game or commencement?
  • Wouldn’t it be better if there was no government money whatever used for schools at any level?
  • Finally, what is your 7th grader learning?

*For example Ward Churchill, who denies he is paid by the taxpayers of
Colorado? (If that’s true, what’s the problem with stopping payment? Let him teach all the student-customers he can attract independently.)

Or the anti-American Juan Cole, right here at the University of Michigan.

1 thought on “Hyberbole and Jihad in Scottsdale”

  1. According to the District’s social studies curriculum specialist, the District never adopted History Alive as its official text.Although some parent groups acquired some or all of the textbooks published by TCI to provide supplementary materials at some of our middle schools, the District adopted Across the Centuries (Houghton Mifflin) in 1999 as its primary social studies text.Christine SchildScottsdale USD Governing Board President